Wednesday, March 19, 2014

What is Canada? Debating Canada's Past and Future (CANA 4000)

Next Fall I'm teaching the CANA 4000 seminar. I taught it a few years ago and enjoyed the experience immensely. The course explores current debates over the meanings of Canada.


Despite a reputation for being rather staid, the field of Canadian studies has witnessed over the past decade a remarkable wave of scholarly and popular interest in reconsidering the question of "what is Canada?" This question is rooted in a vigorous political and intellectual debate, not a recitation of facts. It strikes at the very heart of what we are as a nation and who we want to be as citizens.

Students in CANA 4000 will will read and discuss a series of recent studies that provide strikingly different perspectives of Canada’s past, present, and future. These studies offer five distinct frameworks for understanding Canada – based on geography, politics, culture, values, and ideology – and traverse a fascinating range of popular and scholarly opinion.


We will spend the first part of the course discussing each of these frameworks and debating their merits. Among the prominent authors we'll study will be Michael Adams, John Ralston Saul, Janet Ajzenstat, Cole Harris, and Jocelyn L├ętourneau We'll start by discussing Adams's well-known study, Fire and Ice, and then students will be given the opportunity to write a full-length essay that offers their own perspective on the question of how we should understand Canada.


Given the shifting political and cultural landscapes in Canada today, the issues we'll cover in CANA 4000 could not be more timely. If you have any questions about the course or would like additional information, please contact me.

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